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BASKING RIDGE, N.J. – Nearly two months after Superstorm Sandy forced the postponement of this year's Convenience Store News Hall of Fame induction gala, Quick Chek Corp.'s Dean Durling and Altria Group Distribution Co.'s Bob Sears finally got their moment last night.
At The Olde Mill Inn in Basking Ridge, N.J., Durling and Sears were formally inducted into the CSNews Hall of Fame in front of a room filled with their family, friends and colleagues.
Sears, director of trade and state relations, sales training and compliance for Richmond, Va.-based Altria, was welcomed into the supplier wing of the Hall of Fame. Pat Cordle of BIC Consumer Products — last year's Hall of Fame inductee — passed the torch to Sears.
"Bob is the face of Altria. That's quite a responsibility and he wears it well," Cordle said in his introduction of Sears. He offered three words to describe his friend and colleague: active, productive and contributes. "Bob is somebody you want to be involved with on any project. We're fortunate to have people like Bob Sears in our industry."
Upon his induction, Sears said he was honored, flattered and humbled to be recognized among the many industry leaders already on the CSNews Hall of Fame roster. He expressed gratitude to his family, especially his wife Suzette, for their support, and also thanked his Altria colleagues, noting that he's a better person for working with them.
"It's the relationship component of my job that I cherish the most," Sears added.
CSNews Editor-in-Chief Don Longo welcomed Durling, chairman, president and CEO of Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Quick Chek, into the retailer wing of the Hall of Fame. Longo spoke of Durling's pursuit of continuous improvement and change — what the newest Hall of Famer dubs "restless unsatisfaction." Because of this, Longo said Quick Chek is one of the most innovative companies in the convenience store industry, particularly in foodservice.
During his acceptance speech, Durling said he was honored to accept this recognition on behalf of Quick Chek's 3,400 team members. "This award is an indication that we are on the right track to making Quick Chek a great company," he commented.
Durling also spoke of his personal priorities: his family and Quick Chek. He said he strives to be the best husband and father he can be, and the best leader for Quick Chek that he can be.
"This award also validates that I'm on the right track," he acknowledged.
Following the Hall of Fame inductions, the CSNews 2012 Grand Spirit Award for Community Outreach was presented to The Pantry Inc./Kangaroo Express. Scott Hartman of Rutter's Farm Stores, a former Grand Spirit Award winner, did the honors. He noted that The Pantry supports each community served by its 1,500-plus stores, while paying special attention to the military.
The Cary, N.C.-based company's annual "Salute Our Troops" campaign, which raises money for the USO, the Wounded Warrior Project and six state-based military support organizations, collected more than $2 million in its first year and more than $3 million this year. John Fisher, senior vice president of marketing at The Pantry, accepted the Grand Spirit Award.
The 26th annual CSNews Hall of Fame event was sponsored by the American Wholesale Marketers Association (AWMA), BIC Consumer Products, The Hershey Co., Logic Technologies, McLane Co. and S&D Coffee Inc.